American Horror Story: Asylum Season Premiere

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“American Horror Story Asylum”

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Like the season premiere for Season 1, Asylum opens with a teaser in which curious characters explore the haunted property and become victims to the evil manifested by its dark past.  Honeymooners intent on traveling through the most haunted sites in America enter the abandoned and rotting asylum, discussing its history and sharing its back-story before finding themselves locked inside and becoming its latest casualties.

The opening credits are a montage of religious and sexual imagery, as well as distortions of movement, time, and image.  Whereas Season 1 was a commentary on the fine line between good and evil, Season 2 is set up to be a commentary on perception versus reality, working on numerous levels to expose ever-changing social mores and the way we judge others against ourselves.

From the teaser, the story flashes back to 1964, introducing Kit Walker, who works at a service station.  Kit is married secretly to a black woman, whom he refers to as his maid in order to avoid the social taboos of the time.  He perceives an alien abduction, being tortured by his captors, but his perceptions are quickly questioned when he is taken to the asylum and learns the world believes he is “Bloodyface,” a serial killer who skins his prey alive and creates masks made of human flesh.  To his horror, he is charged with the murder of his beloved wife, an event of which he has no recollection.

The introduction of the asylum’s working interior reveals a chaotic hell best described as One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest on acid.  Parallel to the iron fist of Nurse Ratched is Sister Jude, who is most horrifying in that she believes she acts in the best interest of her patients.  With good reason, she is feared by nearly everyone there, staff included.  She describes to Kit, “All monsters are human,” and asserts that it is her duty to cleanse patients’ the insanity, which she believes is caused by ungodliness and “spiritual crisis,” through “productivity, prayer, and purification.”

Reporter Lana Winters, like Kit, is in a secret relationship, in love with another woman.  When she tries to uncover the secrets that lie within the asylum, Sister Jude commits her, intent on cleansing her of her homosexuality.  It is a “monster in the closet” to be slain.  The guarded secrets, we learn, revolve around the doctor in charge being a mad scientist who believes he can come to understand mankind’s evils through gross experimentation.

The story explores social standards, the imposition of personal beliefs upon others in the name of morality and religion, and the fuzzy line between perception and reality.  Kit’s confusion, and the innocence he exudes, compares drastically to the monster the rest of society sees in him.  Ironically, he becomes the mad doctor’s newest test subject, to be transformed, in essence, into the very monster he denies being.  One must question whether Bloodyface is a product of the asylum, a manifestation of the evil there, rather than a deranged serial killer unaware of his gruesome past.

While this first episode is more creepy than scary, it lays the foundation for a horrifying season filled with commentary on past and present conventions, the crimes that have been committed in the name of good, and the hypocrisy that lies within those who would oppress others with their personal beliefs.  This season promises to be even more chilling than the last, and it will be interesting to see where the story goes in the episodes to come.

leigh lane

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Leigh M. Lane lives in the beautiful mountains of Montana, where she writes speculative fiction that spans from sci-fi to horror. All of her writing contains a gritty realism that hallmarks her unique voice, which also often has social or political undertones. Her recent full-length releases are Finding Poe, World-Mart, and Myths of Gods. Leigh’s influences include H.G. Wells, Kurt Vonnegut, Isaac Asimov, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King. For more about Leigh M. Lane and her works, visit her website at http://www.cerebralwriter.com.

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